Following any type of knee injury, you may find that running is difficult until your knee recovers through natural healing and strengthening. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist if you've recently undergone a meniscectomy procedure to follow through with a safe and effective rehabilitation program that will get you back on your feet.
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The term meniscectomy refers to removal of the meniscus cartilage in the knee joint. The meniscus is cartilage that cushions and stabilizes your knee joint. The meniscus literally acts like a shock absorber between the lower end of your femur, the upper end of the tibia and the patella or kneecap. The severity of the meniscal tear, the surgical approach and whether you've had a full or partial meniscectomy affects your knee joint movement and rehabilitation schedule.
Your doctor or physical therapist will tell you when you can stand, walk and begin exercising on your injured knee following a meniscectomy. Depending on your surgical procedure, age and overall health and wellness, expect between two and eight weeks of recovery following surgery. Gait training is begun after initial knee swelling has gone down. Weight-bearing exercises such as partial and full-weight standing, followed by walking are your first literal steps toward recovery.
Following adequate healing time and exercise for stability and restoration of joint motion and mobility, you can start walking longer distances as long as your walks are pain-free. Full weight-bearing loads on your knee may not be possible until at least 12 weeks following your surgery, sometimes longer. Depending on your pain levels, function of the knee joint and recommendations of your therapist or doctor, you may be released from therapy with instructions to continue your strengthening exercises prior to attempting any jogging or running.
While you may be able to run again, you may experience pain or throbbing sensations in your knee afterward, caused by friction or knee-joint bones rubbing against each other. In addition, you may aggravate your knee joint through such high-impact activity as running, with possible further damage to the knee joint through excessive wear and tear. For some, a total meniscectomy may result in bone and joint conditions like osteoarthritis. Each case is different, and general guidelines and prognoses are individually offered for your specific case.
In the Meantime
If running is off the table while you heal, you can satisfy your urge to expend energy with other aerobic activities; after having your doctor gauge your readiness. Swimming, for example, would be an alternative to running because water exercise puts little to no stress on the knee and offers some of the same rewards found in running -- the ability to compete against yourself or others, peaceful exercise and a full-body workout.